Rocket Camera

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The Rocket Camera is an inexpensive Japanese camera taking 16 exposures on 120 film. They were made in the 1950s, ostensibly by Rocket Camera Co.[1] Various models are known.

Usual model, 4×5cm format

The most usual model takes 4×5cm format pictures and has a box-shaped body, said to be made of tin.[2] The advance knob is at the top left and a simple viewfinder is attached to the rear of the top plate. There is a single uncovered red window in the back, near the top.

The lens is a fixed-focus meniscus and the shutter only provides B and I settings. The lens plate is usually marked Rocket Camera at the top and ROCKET CAMERA CO. PAT. 359573 at the bottom.

Name variants exist: one of them is the General, written General at the top and ROCKET CAMERA CO. MADE IN JAPAN at the bottom, another is the Palmer, written PALMER and JAPAN ROCKET CAMERA CO.[3]

Other models, larger format

Other models of the Rocket Camera are said to take 4.5×6cm pictures.[4] [5]One of them has a metal body and is only known from Sugiyama.[6] The body shape is rounded and the viewfinder is contained under a top housing. The lens plate has the same markings as the regular 4×5cm model.

Another model has a stylish bakelite body.[7] The viewfinder is the same simple type as the 4×5cm model, the advance knob is on the left and there is an accessory shoe on the right. The lens plate again has the same markings.

The Orient Camera Model-P is similar in shape to the bakelite model, but it is made of pressed metal. It reportedly takes 4×5.5cm pictures.[8] The shutter plate is inscribed Orient Camera at the top and ORIENT CAMERA MODEL–P at the bottom, with INST and BULB shutter settings.[9]


  1. Sugiyama also mentions the company Meiji Optical for items 4169 and 4170.
  2. Made of tin: Sugiyama, item 4143.
  3. General: see for example Sugiyama item 4143, and McKeown, p. 844. Palmer: McKeown, p. 844.
  4. Sugiyama, items 4169–70.
  5. An actual example has a measured film gate of 4x5.5 cm as seen in this posting at the Dutch Analoog Foto Forum
  6. Sugiyama item 4169, called "Rocket Camera No. 1".
  7. Sugiyama item 4170, called "Rocket Camera No. 2". See also this page of the Bakelite and Plastic Museum (archived).
  8. McKeown, p. 761.
  9. Example pictured in McKeown, p. 761.


  • McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). Pp. 761 and 844.
  • Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Items 4143 and 4169–70.

These cameras are not listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi.


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